Mammography Screening Recommendations
- Women ages 40 and up should then have a mammogram annually.
- Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast examination (CBE) as part of a regular health exam by a health professional, preferably every 3 years.
- Women at increased risk for breast cancer should talk with their doctor about the benefits and limitations of starting mammograms when they are younger.
- Women should discuss with their physician which approaches are best for them.
Source: American Cancer Society
What about self-examination?
The American Cancer Society believes that mammograms, clinical breast examination, and breast self-examination offer women the best opportunity for reducing the breast cancer death rate through early detection. This combined approach is clearly better than any one examination.
What if an exam or mammogram shows a lump?
A lump should be evaluated by mammogram and ultrasound, as well as by a physical examination from a physician. The physician will determine the need for follow-up or biopsy.
Stereotactic Breast Biopsy
The Women's Diagnostic Center in Doylestown offers Stereotactic Breast Biopsy, a simple, non-surgical outpatient procedure that can determine if an abnormality is cancerous. Computerized imaging equipment allows radiologists and surgeons to perform the breast biopsy quickly and painlessly. Stereotactic breast biopsy is as accurate as traditional surgical biopsy, but it reduces the amount of tissue removed for diagnosis and minimizes scarring. Breast biopsies can also be performed utilizing ultrasound for guidance.
What is breast density and do dense breasts increase my risk for cancer?
Dense breasts consist of a lot of fibrous or glandular tissue but not much fat. Having dense breast tissue may increase your risk of getting breast cancer. Dense breasts also make it more difficult for doctors to detect cancer on mammograms. Dense tissue appears white on a mammogram. Lumps, both benign and cancerous, also appear white. So, mammograms can be less accurate in women with dense breasts.
If you have dense breasts you should still have a mammogram and talk with your doctor to determine if additional testing is needed such as ultrasound and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These imaging studies can be helpful in finding cancers that can’t be seen on a mammogram. Visit the American College of Radiology to learn more about breast density.